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Food for thought

HORROR VS. TERROR If we think of horror, we think of movies which aren't necessarily scary, but which are often capable of shocking the audience. Horror means lots of blood, lots of monsters and probably some running around while being chased by things. But 'terror' is an equally important part of the Gothic, arguably more so. Horror is about being graphic, about being disgusting or horrific, its power in presenting visceral images or death and murder and an unambiguous supernatural. Terror, on the other hand, is more subtle; it isn't interested in showing so much, but rather in building up fear and apprehension; terror is mental, whereas horror is more physical. The majority of the most powerful Horror-genre films are actually about terror, not horror; The Exorcist, for example, and The Omen both use terror to build up, before some scenes of horror. Horror is what B-movies and cheap fiction thrives on; gore and guts, and probably some sex, too. Terror can make you afraid, whereas horror can shock you.

Terror is the intense fear we feel in anticipation of something happening, while horror is the revulsion we feel when it happens. Both of these emotions are what Gothic writers aspire to achieve in their plots and in their readers. They want to develop a mood of fear and anxiety. To create terror, Gothic writers create suspense in their stories, thereby creating terror in their readers. As the suspense builds in the story, our terror rises as well because we're afraid of what will happen or what we know is going to happen. When the event does happen, we are then shocked and alarmed that it has truly occurred, and we feel horrified. Our horror is increased if the events cannot easily be explained away. As far as the greatest horror in Gothic literature, I think that depends on what scares you. A well-written Gothic piece of literature allows the reader to feel the same terror and horror that the characters do, and that's the beauty of Gothic to me. Some people are really freaked out by ghosts and vampires, while others are not. Perhaps monsters or torture chambers scare you. To me, the greatest horror is what makes you feel the most terror and horror.

Castles and dungeons, blasted heaths and sepulchral cells, forests and storm-ravaged cliffs, maidens in distress, rugged heroes, alchemists, wizards, ghosts, rotting corpses, bleeding nuns, monks, mad priests and viragoes. . . these are the raw materials of the Gothic: sometimes genuinely shocking, more often extravagant, ridiculous, and laugh-out loud silly.
Gothicism replaced the previously classic concept of nothing in excess. The readers wanted to be frightened, to feel terror and take pleasure into being taken into what was excessive. They were interested in this new kind of literature. Gothic novelists sought greater horror, disgust and terror to fulfil the desire for too much to shock the bourgeoisie; a characteristic of a Gothic novel.




adj. 1. Highly disturbing emotionally. 2. Highly offensive; indecent or distasteful.

3. Very vivid or intense in tone: shocking pink.